This month, Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych signed a $125 million bill into law that will install two web cameras in each of Ukraine’s 34,000 polling stations in time for the Oct. 28 parliamentary elections. The move comes after Russia installed web cameras and provided a live feed from polling stations during the March presidential election. The web cameras were installed in response to accusations of vote tampering during the previous parliamentary election, supported by voter videos from polling stations uploaded to YouTube. When announcing plans for the legislation, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov emphasized that web cameras would eliminate any accusations of election fraud. “We have decided to set up web cameras at each polling station. This will remove all speculation about the possibility of election fraud. Interestingly those who talked most about potential election fraud voted against the web cameras. We will get the job done, and everyone will have an opportunity to observe the elections online,” said the Ukrainian prime minister.
Shielding itself from claims of election fraud is no minor concern for Yanukovych and the Party of the Regions, whose involvement in the flawed first round of the 2004 presidential election led to the Orange Revolution and the eventual election of Viktor Yushchenko. Though the 2010 presidential election that saw Yanukovych take the presidency was deemed to be free and fair, Ukraine has consistently slid backwards in global freedom rankings since.
When member of Ukrainian parliament, Valeriy Konovalyuk, initially proposed the legislation in March, protecting the Party of the Regions from allegations of voter fraud also featured heavily in his justification: “The Installation of video cameras and direct and continuous broadcast of the vote not only provide effective control of the electoral process and prevent various kinds of abuse and violation of election laws, but also protect Ukraine from unfounded and adventurous accusations of undemocratic elections.”
Full Article: Ukraine’s election web cameras: hollow eyes.